Being stressed has become the norm of the 21st century. What do you answer when people ask how you’re doing without blurting out ‘stressed’, ‘tired’, ‘burned out’, and ‘slowly decomposing along with my unfinished work’? (Okay, maybe not the last one) Today, I asked my nine year-old brother “What do you do when you get stressed out?” His reply was “I freak out and run around in circles!” Although this behaviour is accepted for children, adults are taught to internalize their feelings and deal with stress on their own. A recent WebMd Article stated that prolonged periods of stress can lead to anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, substance abuse, heart problems and depression. That’s some scary stuff, considering that most of the people I know are currently dealing with some form of stress, including myself. Avoid long term stress by combating it in 5 easy steps:
1. Prioritize With You In Mind
Do the things you want to do but can never find the time for. Whether that’s catching up with your friends, organizing your desk, playing basketball, spending time with family, reading a book, or simply breathing deeply for a few minutes, having time to relax will ease you from your worries. If you’re an introvert, separate yourself from the noise and go on a retreat. The comfort of the tropics can sometimes be sought out in your own bedroom! If you’re an extrovert, immerse yourself in the noise. Take a day, a few hours, or a few minutes to spend on yourself. Create an at-home spa experience. Step outside your comfort zone (link to being lost article, link to youtube video) and experience something for the first time. Have a quiet tea break. Returning to your roots, spending time with loved ones, and paying attention to your health will replenish your energy and allow you to forget your stress.
2. Get Active
Now that you have a clear mindset, the worries will begin to reduce. Your goal at this point is to get active and get your mind focused on a physical task. For example, play the Frozen soundtrack (we won’t tell if you won’t!) and clean the house while singing your heart out. Bond with your siblings or talk to your mom while you do the dishes. Go jogging with your friends or go for a walk alone. Try meditating. Be active: go to the gym, practice your down dog, or just dance around your home in your pajamas. Turning your attention to physical motions will help evaporate your worries and distance yourself from the stress. You will see the bigger picture. Besides – the extra endorphins won’t hurt, either.
This step is optional, but extremely helpful to those of you who like to view things visually. Throughout the day, use a note-taking application on your smart phone (or a notebook, if that’s still your thing) to jot down ideas that pop up on the go. This word vomit exercise of writing down everything that comes to mind is also useful for getting your thoughts organized and ready for brainstorming. There’s loads of awesome mind mapping softwares out there. My picks are coggle.it (Free), and mindmeister.com ($0.99) This is similar to a to-do list, just less linear and more web-like (Haha, get it? World Wide Web). The idea behind mind mapping is that by organizing your ideas from your calendar, notes app, and word vomit exercise, you will be able to see the visual structures of your projects, ideas, and objectives in an organized fashion.
4. Make an Actionable Plan
I know that putting your work off just for one more Netflix marathon seems rewarding, but just remember the feeling of working the day of the due date and scrambling to get everything done. It’s best to try to avoid it by using some specific tools to keep you on track of your schedule. Take advantage of the Google calendar and plan out your month using deadlines. Set an alarm (or 10) to keep yourself in check or print out a weekly schedule template if you prefer a more detailed, every half-hour version. There’s also a Google Chrome extension called “StayFocusd”, which I swear by. It monitors your online activity, and allows you to block any time-wasting websites for a certain period of time. Planning out your week might take time itself, but you will save many more hours in the long run and approach your work in a precise way.
5. Start Checking Things Off
Now that you’ve returned to your work with a fresh mindset and established what needs to get done, it’s time to act. If you’re having a hard time focusing and getting down to business, read my article on procrastination and how to stop (link). In order to do the work you’ve set out to do, you have to start. It’s the simplest yet most complex psychological battle of wants. Change your habits on procrastinating by beginning your work when you’re supposed to. When you get stuck, remember the purpose of what you are doing and the positive impact your work will make. By completing your goals, you will have less work to stress about and more room for personal reflection and growth.
You can use this step-by-step guide for monthly, weekly, or daily de-stressing session, and mold it to make it work for you. Whether its school, work, or both, remember that your health of your body and mind is always more important. This article teaches you the short-term fix that will help you manage stress better when it comes up. For long-term solutions of eliminating stress once and for all, keep an eye out for my next article “Managing Work Stress – Part 2”. Before you go, leave a comment below about how you manage your short- or long-term stress and share this article with your friends!
Written by Katrina Van
Katrina is a 2nd year Business Management student at Ryerson University majoring in Marketing and minoring in Professional Communication. She is passionate about transforming the marketing industry into one that celebrates differences, empowers, and influences people for good. When she is not working, Katrina is blogging, training her puppy Hazel, and reading everything from fiction to business to well-being. You can find her LinkedIn here http://www.linkedin.com/pub/katrina-van/5a/84b/601.